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Transmission Fluid 101

The days when all we ladies needed to know about cars is that they help us avoid foot calluses and corns are over. With so many of us mobile these days (and without our men in tow), a basic knowledge of our wheels is imperative. And one of the car-related things you should acquaint yourself with is …(drum roll) transmission fluid.

Transmission fluid is a slippery liquid that acts as a lubricant for all the moving parts in your transmission. A variety of fluids are used for different transmissions:

Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF)

  • Used by automatic transmissions
  • Serves as a "coolant" and transmits power from the engine to the transmission.

Manual transmissions

  • Use a variety of oils: regular motor oil, heavyweight hypoid gear oil or even ATF in some cases.

Regular change of your transmission fluid must be done in order to avoid transmission contamination by metal shavings. Failure to do so will shorten the life of your transmission and result in a hefty bill from your mechanic (sweet-talking and eyelash batting can only get you so far). Frequency of change varies:

  • Service intervals for an automatic vary from every 30,000km to never. The typical service interval is 60,000km to 100,000km.
  • It is recommended to change manual transmission fluid every 30,000 to 60,000km. Or every 15,000 miles under heavy-duty usage to increase transmission life span.

As for DIY, you can relax: changing your transmission fluid yourself is not recommended. Frequent checks, however, are highly encouraged, and they are simple and fast to conduct.

Manual users

  • Check the fluid by using the dipstick. It takes just a minute. (Some vehicles have dipsticks included, but if you are unsure, refer to your vehicle manual).

Automatic users

  • Your vehicle will have a dipstick for this purpose. Be careful not to confuse the transmission dipstick with the crankcase dipstick.

A toast to foot health!

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